Luxe Life Magazine got a chance to discuss the role of comfort and technology in air travel with Global CEO of Airport Dimensions Mignon Buckingham.
We want travelers to value their time at the airport.Airport Dimensions
“That’s why we are always looking at ways to open new dimensions in customer engagement – using a mix of enriching physical experiences and innovative digital services. From comfortable lounges to restful sleep pods, from convenient food ordering to contactless collection of duty free, we want to improve a traveler’s visit – while critically helping airports maximize non-aeronautical revenue opportunities, retain airlines, and become more competitive.
Established in 2006, we have built a rapid growing network of locations at the world’s leading airports across the United States, United Kingdom, Middle East and South America. Under our brands The Club, Club Aspire, No1 Lounges, Clubrooms, sleep ’n fly and Ambaar Club, together with over 50 airport and airline partners we have delivered an award-winning hospitality experience to millions of travelers. We have expanded our physical offering for travelers with sleep ’n fly offering travelers a personal space for a peaceful sleep and using the latest technologies, we have invested in driving revenue growth for airports and increasing traveler satisfaction with the launch of our digital service Connecta – a one-stop e-commerce and passenger loyalty platform.”
- What are the expansion plans for Airport Dimensions in the next year?
With global travel well and truly on the way to being back on its feet, Airport Dimensions has plans for aggressive global expansion over the next year. We will be delivering a number of well-conceived spaces, that combine the very best of physical and digital experiences to allow passengers to make excellent use of their time at the airport. As an example, we have recently opened a new Sleep ‘n Fly lounge at Dubai International Airport Concourse B as well as a gaming lounge with Gameway at Charlotte International Airport and a new Club lounge at San Francisco Harvey Milk Terminal 1 is set to open in 2023.
Moving forwards, our overarching goal is to establish Airport Dimensions as the global leader in lounges, building on our success and continuing to invest to bring maximum value to customers and airports.
- What steps are Airport Dimensions taking to create more sustainable lounge spaces?
For Airport Dimensions and each of our airport partners, sustainability is a key consideration throughout all our activities. It is of course also in the minds of our lounge guests, and so it’s a priority to ensure our practices are as sustainable as possible.
Our Club lounges, for example, have a program called “WasteWatch” which allows us to capture food waste data and take action, helping reduce avoidable food waste. We have reduced indoor water use by 30% through the use of low flow fixtures. In addition, during the construction of our lounges, AD is committed to reducing construction and demolition waste disposed of in landfills and incineration facilities by recovering, reusing and recycling materials. Our design materials incorporate recycled content including carpet, porcelain tiles, and wallcovering and focus on healthy, low-emitting, and low impact materials – as well as recycled and locally sourced content wherever possible. Our forthcoming Club SFO lounge will be LEED Gold certified. Amenities such as self- serve filtered water stations eliminate the need for plastic water bottles in the lounge and support our plastic free program which includes wooden stirrers and paper straws
Our locally-sourced F&B menus contribute to local economic development, while minimizing food miles. Environmental stewardship is also a key criterion when selecting local vendors. Our commitment to responsible sourcing is backed by a target of achieving a 34% reduction in carbon emissions by 2025 as part of our ‘better tomorrow’ program and measured with third party audited tracking.
Our new Concourse B lounge at Dubai International Airport is another good example, having held environmental responsibility as a central focus of the project from start to finish. Here, as at other locations, we aim to use recycled and recyclable materials wherever possible. At Concourse B, we use fibre-based, 100% biodegradable key cards access control, and all leather furnishings are created from recycled scrap leather which would otherwise go to landfill. The power supply for the lounge is carefully managed by a bespoke smart power system to optimise energy and reduce overall usage, whilst toiletry kits, toilet paper and paper tissues are made from bamboo. In addition, soft drinks cups have been replaced by glassware and drinking straws have been eliminated throughout the lounge, an action we are rolling out across our spaces wherever possible. Wooden or bamboo toothbrushes and razors will also be introduced.
- What are the main characteristics that all your spaces share?
Every single Airport Dimensions space is uniquely designed to meet the needs of each individual airport and the passengers it serves. It’s ever-more important that airports offer guests a sense of place that creates a bespoke experience from the moment they arrive at the terminal.
A good example of this is how we incorporate the best of local arts, culture, heritage and cuisine to enrich our spaces. At The Club CLT for example, every element of the space has been thoughtfully designed to creates the welcoming ambience for which the region is renowned. The Club CLT in Charlotte features an inviting porch swing as guests enter the lounge, evoking the hospitality of the deep south as well as a gold metallic ripple ceiling representing the excitement of the region’s first gold rush in 1799, and reflecting the rich history and culture of Charlotte. With a menu which serves a range of local specialty dishes, our lounge allows guests to appreciate the character of the South.
- How has the pandemic changed the concept of airport lounges and its attraction to customers?
Having already been on the rise, digital experiences have become crucial throughout all aspects of our lives since the start of the pandemic. People are used to being able to get what they want, when they want it and they now expect that same experience at the airport.
A new generation of traveler has emerged. Millennials and emerging Generation Z have become airports’ primary customers, and this is having a major impact with the modern traveler’s attitude towards digitalization, technology, loyalty, retail and leisure bearing no resemblance to that of their parents. This presents numerous opportunities to airports, allowing them to develop lounge spaces which appeal to ‘digital natives’ and engage guests.
- Which markets do you expect the most growth?
We have 24 lounges open and operational, in North and South America, with 15 more planned. Globally, we have 40 lounge spaces open, with 20 concepts currently in development in total globally. Airport Dimensions is proud to be the market leading lounge provider with The Club lounges in the US, UK and Brazil and has seen strong global growth in the past few years. We have established a presence in the Middle East and Asia and will look to continue our rapid growth in these markets moving forward.
Airport Dimensions’ recent collaboration with Ambaar has given us a strong foothold in South America. We have opened three lounges in Brazil in 2022 thus far and have plans for further growth in the region due to the shared values for hospitality-first approaches and locally-inspired design elements.
- What are the challenges ahead and how can technology improve spaces for customers and subsequently improve customer client relation?
Our challenge (and our opportunity) is adapting to a new tech-savvy generation, who are now very much used to accessing almost anything at the touch of a screen. We believe the solution to this challenge is to combine the best of physical and digital, taking new technology and using it to create services which can further enhance the guest experience.
Our new Connecta In-Lounge experience – which recently launched at Jacksonville International Airport – is a great example. Airports have long considered lounges a commercial blackspot, which prevent the traveler from shopping and spending at the airport. Connecta In-Lounge offers airports a platform to drive new revenue growth from a key affluent traveller segment whilst providing those guests access to a range of services inside the lounge. Fully customizable, Connecta In-Lounge can be tailored to any specific range of services available at each airport location. The platform is accessible via a single QR code and also allows guests to seamlessly order food and beverages, shop for duty free, book services such as showers and business pods, share feedback and access a selection of online media, including newspapers, magazines and podcasts curated for each location.
- Are certain cultures more accustomed to the concept of airport lounges if so how do you challenge this in new markets?
All travelers are increasingly looking for their own personal space, amenity and a place to relax before a flight. Beyond that, different cultures have different needs and expectations. Those needs even differ within a single country. Our mission is to ensure that we can use technology like Connecta, converging the physical and digital experience, to ensure we personalize and customize every guest experience and deliver our guests choice and control over their personal experience, not just in the lounge, but across the entire airport journey.